Remedy to beat the heat- The New Indian Express

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Express News Service

After thermodynamic mattresses and ‘ultra-white’ paint that cools aircraft and buildings, comes cooling clothes. The latest among them is StayQool suit, which promises to offer relief to those facing sweltering temperatures, including construction workers, farmers and soldiers who have no refuge indoors. The innovative outfit, created by British company Techniche UK, is crafted from a special mesh material that can absorb and dissipate heat through evaporation, all while maintaining a waterproof layer on the inside for user comfort. The secret lies in a simple process: before use, they are soaked in water for just two minutes. The result: users can experience an eight-degree drop in temperature on a hot day.

The technology is especially useful in regions like the Middle East, where temperatures can skyrocket above 48ºC. The company says StayQool suits are not only cooling but also adaptable, featuring collars and wrist cuffs that can be easily added or detached. Techniche is not stopping at just suits; they are also developing a cooling vest that, apart from its primary objective, also monitors the wearer’s vital signs and identifies heat stress through ‘smart sensors’. The company draws inspiration from NASA’s ‘phase-change materials’ to create their products.

As global warming continues to rise, clothing brands and startups are emerging as a frontline tool in the climate resilience arsenal. In California, a startup is working on miniature air-conditioning devices that can be integrated into clothing, while Chinese researchers have crafted reflective polyester capable of bouncing up to 90 percent of the sun’s rays off its surface. Japanese brand Uniqlo offers the AIRism T-shirt, which comes in a polyester-and-spandex version and a cotton blend. Some consumers, however, find the polyester version somewhat clingy, while the cotton blend provides more cooling effect.

LifeLabs, a US-based materials science company, has introduced CoolLife T-shirts, which offers wearers a continuous reduction in body temperature. These garments are crafted from recycled, engineered polyethylene, a material that has the unique property of being transparent to infrared wavelengths. It allows heat to dissipate away from the wearer, ensuring a comfortable experience.

US Brands like Dickies offer the Cooling Temp-iQ T-shirt, promising an ‘instant cooling sensation’. Meanwhile, companies like the Ministry of Supply are using advanced knitting technology to create garments with additional air space between material strands. Kontoor Brands is adopting technology initially designed by NASA to cool astronauts, and applying it to ‘Insta-Cool’ shirts. They print ink made from wax and other materials on the shirt’s interior, creating a noticeable and lasting cooling effect.

Additionally, researchers in places like Hong Kong are experimenting with fabrics and uniform designs that maximise UV protection and sweat management. These studies result in innovative uniforms that provide relief to workers in sweltering conditions. The US Army, for instance, has developed an ‘improved hot weather combat uniform’ that combines nylon and cotton for a lighter, more breathable alternative to standard uniforms. With innovations like these, one thing is clear: our clothing is not just a fashion statement; it’s a lifesaver in a warming world. 

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